As summer beckons and North Coast residents ready themselves for holidays, what better addition could there be than a cocktail that refreshes and relaxes.
Whether classing it up at a restaurant with panoramic ocean views, or trying your hand at homemade mixology, a cocktail is rarely an unwanted addition.
But don’t take our word for it, follow the opinion of the thousands who voted for their five best cocktail venues in The North Coast Courier Best of Ballito Readers’ Choice Awards.
Try them at a leisurely once-a-week indulgence through December, or go all in on a boozy afternoon – these cocktails will not disappoint.
Ballito Lifestyle Centre, Ballito
Alchemy is aptly named, given the ability of its bar staff to create what appears as magic from deceptively simple ingredients.
A fixture at the vanguard of local cocktail making since 2017, it is no surprise that the bar finds itself atop of this list.
Whether you are looking for elegantly prepared favourites or to try something you had never heard of, you will likely find a drink that suits on the extensive menu.
We sampled the barrel-aged Negroni (R105), a fitting choice following the recent completion of World Negroni Week on September 18 and the imminent onset of summer.
It is always a difficult proposition to elevate a classic, but attention to detail truly makes this a cocktail to remember.
There are touches of quality at every point, from the chosen glassware to aromatic citrus oils and, of course, the fact that it had been aged for six weeks in an oak barrel.
Made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, the slightly bitter first sip soon gives way to vanilla tasting notes that emerge from the aging process.
Combine that with a pleasantly syrupy mouthfeel and you have an eminently drinkable and refreshing cocktail.
This is well worth a try and deserving of its first place vote.
2. Beach Bums
65 Casuarina Road, Genazzano, Westbrook
If you’re in the mood for a refreshing kick, look no further than Beach Bums’ Touch & Go.
Voted the second best cocktail venue, the Touch & Go cocktail (R85) is an ideal drink for when the sun hits just a little too hard.
Made up of perhaps just a little too much ice, it includes tequila, Belgravia gin, as well as Belgravia gin and dry lemon cider.
The cocktail is decorated with fresh strawberries and blueberries, complementing the gin nicely.
Tread with some caution, this cocktail sneaks up on you silently, and then all at once.
Shop 3, Compensation Beach Road, Ballito
Good music, good food and a beach view – that is the vibe you can expect at Conchilla.
We sampled three of their best-selling cocktails, the Tuscan Sun, Pacific Blue, and their signature cocktail, the Crème Chilla. All priced at R85.
The Tuscan Sun, a very fitting name for this perfect sundowner, is a blend of gin, brandy and grenadine syrup. Do not be deceived by its beautiful sunset inspired layers. This drink wastes no time, so sip with caution.
If you have a sweet tooth, the Pacific Blue is the drink for you. A simple mix of rum, blue curacao and soda water. Sipping on this beauty while gazing at the summer sunset is the best way to kickstart your weekend.
All three cocktails were delicious, but the Crème Chilla was undoubtedly the star of the show.
The combination of vodka, crème de classic and Pongrácz makes for a well-balanced cocktail with just the right amount of sweet and bitter. Garnished with a dry orange slice and an edible flower, she was the fairest of them all, the perfect girls’ night out drink.
4. Fiamma Grill
Coco De Mer Boutique Hotel, 63 Compensation Beach Road, Ballito
Nothing says holiday like sipping cocktails by the pool.
Candy Machine (R75) and Miami Vice (R80) are two of Fiamma Grill’s most requested cocktails and it’s not hard to see why.
These two tasty drinks go down a treat. Candy Machine is surprisingly not too sweet with a combination of bubble gum syrup, blue curacao, Ketel One vodka and finished off with a splash of soda.
Miami Vice was sublime… this is what would happen if a Strawberry Daiquiri and a Pina Colada had sex on a beach.
Bacardi Carta Bianca, fresh pineapple, coconut cream, lime, strawberry liqueur and strawberry juice, blended and served frozen. The addition of lime cut through the sweetness perfectly in this dreamy cocktail.
Balvista Centre, 12 Library Lane, Ballito
After a long, hot summer’s day, sipping on a passion fruit daiquiri is both refreshing and relaxing.
The combination of the passion fruit and mint complements each other well, is easy-going on the palette and a real crowd pleaser.
Combined with the vibrant atmosphere of the restaurant and great service, this is a no-brainer.
You can either enjoy a mocktail which contains no alcohol or with a dash of vodka. The alcohol is subtle and does not overwhelm the cocktail’s fruity flavours.
If you are looking for something smooth and refreshing after a day out at the beach, then this is your go to. Not overly complicated, yet satisfying, this new addition to the drinks menu cost us R45 for 500ml or R24 for the mocktail.